The Homeschooling Movement in the United States of America
Like a majority of people, the Connollys had never imagined homeschooling as something they would do. But by the time, their daughter Elise entered sixth grade they noticed a personality change. Her grades began to drop – first a little then a lot. The Connollys tried to talk about it with her, but Elise was distant and noncommunicative. When the school year ended, and they received her report card, the Connollys felt disappointed and discouraged about the education of their only daughter. They immediately telephoned the school, but everyone was out for the summer. Consequently, they had to solve the problem on their own. It was difficult because Elise rejected talking about school until she finally gave way to tears. She explained having problems with some of her peers and with the character of some of her teachers. The Connollys felt that there were elements like peer pressure and violence in the school environment they had no control over. The next day, they started to investigate in homeschooling (Caruana 46).
According to the sociologist Mitchell Stevens school is “the most central institution of modern life” (15). This means that daily activities or vacations are adjusted and organized around school. Despite this, we can observe a new trend: Parents teach their children at home instead of sending them to a public or a private school. More and more children get educated at home by their parents or, in some cases, by private teachers.
Homeschooling exists in many parts of the world, especially in English speaking countries, but this paper focuses on the homeschooling movement in the United States because a majority of homeschooling families can be found there. Homeschoolers are only connected by their interest in homeschooling their children and not by religion, ethnicity or class. Therefore, the typical homeschooling family does not exist. At first glance, people think that most homeschoolers are fundamentalist Christians but in fact there is a plurality of people who educate their children at home and that is why it can be hard to understand the trend.
When asked about their reasons for homeschooling, one-half of parents mention that they strive for high educational achievement for their children and 30 per cent of homeschooling parents state that they feel dissatisfied with the school environment (Baumann, par. 32). Therefore, homeschooling is an educational alternative that allows parents to offer their children a better education while simultanously protecting them from the perceived dangers and problems of public schools.
This paper deals with the historical development of the movement, and it explains how and why parents educate their children at home. Furthermore, it explores the legal regulations and counter arguments.
To understand the growing trend towards homeschooling, it is necessary to know about the history of education and school development in the United States. In most American colonies education was based on the English model which meant that many parents educated their children at home voluntarily. Public schools were only attended by the poor. Education in New England was an exception to this practice. The English Puritans who settled the New England colonies were Calvinists, and therefore education in these colonies was in the Calvinist tradition of compulsory education. A compulsory literacy law was passed in 1642. After this, public schools were established in order to make children into good Calvinists.
In 1776, the founders of the United States could not decide whether or not school attendance should be compulsory, and that is why they left this decision to families and governments . Since 1789, school attendance has been compulsory in Massachusetts and in 1850 public schools existed in almost every state, but children were only forced to attend them in Massachusetts and in Connecticut (Rothbard, par. 136).
By 1900, almost every state had made school attendance compulsory. From 1920 to 1970, homeschooling was completely underground but after the publication of several books in the 1970s discussions about the practice began. One of these books was Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich who opposed compulsory attendance laws. In 1976, the school teacher John Holt demonstrated in Instead of Education: Ways To Help People Do Things Better how children can learn without being forced into conventional schooling. As a result, many homeschooling parents contacted Holt and then he began to publish the magazine Growing Without School, which provides homeschooling parents with a forum to communicate with one another. Yet, he doesn´t agree with parents who homeschool for religious reasons.
- Quote paper
- Lena Saliger (Author), 2007, The Homeschooling Movement in the United States of America, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/146494